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'I've stopped overthinking my Test career' - Rohit Sharma

Rohit Sharma has 1298 runs in Tests in India at an average of 99.84 though he has a while to go to catch up to Don Bradman's average of 98.22 over 4322 runs at home BCCI

A decision to allow himself to enjoy the game and not think too hard about his technique before India's tour of Australia in 2018-19 preceded Rohit Sharma's successful move up as Test opener in the subsequent home season. Speaking to PTI, Rohit was effusive about the role his young family has had on his priorities, to the extent that he barely thinks about Test cricket now, a big change, he said, from days when he would over-analyse his innings.

"Honestly speaking, I stopped thinking about Test matches long time back," Rohit said.

"Earlier, I was thinking too much about success in Tests. I would go overboard as to why is this happening, why am I playing that shot. After each Test innings, I would go to our video analyst, sit, watch and then confuse (clutter) my brain further. That wasn't actually the right thing that I was doing.

"Thinking too much about technique was not allowing me to enjoy the game. All that was there in my mind was, 'Oh I need to do well in Test cricket'.

"So, before 2018-19 Australia series, I told myself, 'Boss, whatever has to happen will happen and I am not going to think about technique'. At the end of the day, I want to go out there, share a laugh with my mates and enjoy."

Rohit made 63* and 5 in his last Test on that tour, and has since rapidly turned conversations around his Test spot. In October 2019, he opened for the first time in Tests, and made 176 and 127 in the same match against South Africa. In the third Test of that series, he made 212. In the space of five innings since that Test in Australia, his average has jumped from 39.62 to 46.54.

"If you talk about opening in the SA series, from people's perspective, it was my last chance. But I am a sportsman and I can't think like that. If I thought it was my last chance then I wouldn't have scored runs with that mindset," he said.

"You can't allow negative thoughts to creep in when you are playing such a high profile sport. I know that I am no longer 22 or 23 years old that I will keep getting opportunities in Test matches and can take my place for granted. I know that every time I go out there, I have to put a high price tag on my wicket. I am blessed to get an opportunity that many are waiting for. So, why should I regret, worry or think about so many things?"

Rohit is closing in on 13 years as an international cricketer now, and has been among the world's foremost limited-overs players for a large part of that duration. His career did stutter for a while at the start, though, and he knows a thing or two about public perceptions around a talented player. His coping method - a "shield" - is something he has talked about with 22-year-old Rishabh Pant.

"When you play the sport, there is a lot of distraction and noise around you. You need to create an environment around yourself so that none of this bothers you. No idea, vision or sermons will come inside that shield unless you allow it. Let people say good things, bad things, one shouldn't be bothered about it.

"In fact, I was telling Pant the same thing. Poor guy is only 21 [22] and people are telling him to score hundreds in every game, do this and do that. I mean cut some slack man. I told Rishabh [to] create a wall and ensure that nobody comes inside. It's your safe house. People want to talk about you, let them do it outside that wall and you do what you intend to do inside your zone."'